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Recognize life's good deals



Updated: 2017-10-15T06:45:19Z

 



How to save for Christmas and more: 16+ tips

2017-10-12T06:15:42Z

It's the second week of October, and Christmas is about ten weeks away. How to save for Christmas? Here are a few things to try in order to save up $300 in ten weeks … Christmas gift-giving isn't for everyone, of course, but it is a tradition for many families. How to save for Christmas […] Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! It's the second week of October, and Christmas is about ten weeks away. How to save for Christmas? Here are a few things to try in order to save up $300 in ten weeks … Christmas gift-giving isn't for everyone, of course, but it is a tradition for many families. How to save for Christmas when it's October We're ten weeks or so away from Christmas now. Assuming for the moment that you are looking to save up $300 for Christmas shopping rather than charging it on credit cards — (hint: you should save up for it) — then one way to go about it is to save $30 per week for those ten weeks. Here's a Pinterest-friendly illustration of this plan, which I call the “Save $30 for 10 Weeks to Save $300 Saving Plan”: What follows is a list of strategies that can get you to that $300 by Christmas. It probably won't be exactly $30 per week for 10 weeks, but if you do any of them you're likely to do better than nothing! On the way to work, or at work Many of us have jobs with lots of opportunities to spend money there. Here are a few ways how to save for Christmas at your job: Pass over the vending machines and get sodas and snacks from the grocery store. Believe me, I get it — it's incredibly easy and tempting to feed those vending machine when you need a quick hit of salt, crunch, or caffeine. They're just right there, waiting. Getting a case of your favorite soda, or a bag of chips, or whatever, at the grocery store will easily be half the cost of the vending machine. And, it will be fresher, too. (You can put these spending roadblocks in place to help yourself out with the vending machines, and other places, too!) Pack your lunch instead of eating out. At the place where I work, there's a really good little Greek place that serves awesome wraps. I was dropping $60 a month or so for several months. The lunches were delicious and even fairly healthy, but they were expensive. Now, I pack enough food to keep body and soul together until I can get home again. (You can try my favorite hamburger soup recipe to give you and your family a few meals that are easy to store or freeze.) Brew your own coffee instead of hitting the coffee shop. Even a cheap-ish $1 cup of brewed coffee every weekday adds up, let alone a $6 specialty drink. If you do have a $6 drink every weekday, I'll just point out that you can save the whole $300 simply by cutting this out of your spending. Now, I get this too because I love my coffee; it makes me a much happier person. But even trying your hand at your own specialty drinks could deliver a good chunk of that $300. (I love my Contigo stainless steel travel mug for coffee; it keeps my coffee hot for quite a while!) (Expert Level!) Adjust your withholding. Do you normally get a large refund after you file your taxes? If yes, then there may still be time to adjust your withholding to keep more of your money now, rather than give it to the government interest-free until after you file your taxes. But beware — if you miscalculate and have too little withheld, then you'll owe penalties to the IRS. Start with the IRS' withholding calculator and take it from there. Selling and side-hustling Like to deal or horse trade? Or maybe you have some things that you don't need anymore? Then these tips are for you! Sell your stuff on eBay using your free listings. Do you know that you can list 50 items per month for free on eBay? You only pay if the item sells. You can list some of your smaller items there at some reasonable price (be sure to take into account shipping, taxes, and the final value fee) and let a few things ride there until they sell. Sell your stuff on Craigslist or on a local Facebook gro[...]



Swagbucks Swago promotion October 2017

2017-10-11T04:37:47Z

It's Swagbucks Swago time again! Bonus SB for doing things you're already doing on the web … For all of the many “get paid to” sites out there, Swagbucks is the most fun I've run across. The site is well designed and they keep the excitement up with fun games like this. I've earned hundreds […] Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! It's Swagbucks Swago time again! Bonus SB for doing things you're already doing on the web … For all of the many “get paid to” sites out there, Swagbucks is the most fun I've run across. The site is well designed and they keep the excitement up with fun games like this. I've earned hundreds of dollars in free gift cards with Swagbucks, and you can too! Swagbucks is celebrating the fall with another big “Swago” promotion. It's going on right now, and ends 12pm PT/3pm ET on Monday, October 16th. This Swagbucks Swago round is easier than some Swago is just like bingo, but in this case you're filling out squares as you earn points on their site for doing things you already do online. Completing some of Swago squares is pretty easy (watch some videos, “win” with an web search). Others take more time or require you to buy something like a discounted gift card. But it all can't be easy, I guess! I've already completed the right column and I'm looking to finish up a few more squares on the board before submitting (each square will give me some more spins on the Spin & Win Wheel regardless whether I complete a better pattern or not). If you're thinking of trying Swagbucks, then this is a great chance to learn all about how the site works and earn bonus points while doing it. If you're already using Swagbucks, then this means that you'll get more gift cards faster. Some tips for maximizing Swago bonus Here are a few tips for maximizing your rewards with Swago from Swagbucks: Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. They can be anything from getting a search win, completing a survey, or just visiting one of our popular stores! Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete. You have until 12pm PT/3pm ET on Monday, October 16th to mark off as many squares as possible so watch the deadline. Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value. Once you’ve achieved a pattern, the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission; however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely. Each activity you successfully complete on your Swago Board will give you anywhere from 1-20 spins on the Spin & Win Wheel. Additionally, when you submit your board for a bonus you'll get additional spins. The number of spins will depend on the pattern you complete. The wheel has all sorts of great prizes that you can win, and each spin is a winner! The Spin & Win Wheel will be available all throughout Swago and you have until 11:59pm PT on Monday, October 16th to use all your spins. Fill up your board and then submit your pattern to get even more points – if you can fill in the whole board, you get a 500 SB bonus, which is enough for a $5 gift card from the retailer of your choice. Click here right now and click “Join” to get started! If you don't already have a Swagbucks account, you'll be able to quickly sign up; PLUS, if you earn 300 SB before the first of next month, you'll get a bonus 300 SB! Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! [...]



Marshmallow experiment: Reviving old marshmallows

2017-10-07T05:18:31Z

Tonight I had my own version of a marshmallow experiment, and it turned out really well … Bags of marshmallows in our house do a couple of things if they're not eaten in one sitting. The smaller ones get a bit hard and become marsh-not-so-mellow. The larger ones stick to each other and get really […] Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! Tonight I had my own version of a marshmallow experiment, and it turned out really well … Bags of marshmallows in our house do a couple of things if they're not eaten in one sitting. The smaller ones get a bit hard and become marsh-not-so-mellow. The larger ones stick to each other and get really gooey. Marshmallow experiment: Saving nearly-dead old marshmallows As my wife was scrolling through Ibotta prior to a trip to Walmart, she saw an offer for $0.25 off any brand of cereal. (Check out my review of Ibotta to learn more about this.) Then she remembered that we had a few open bags of marshmallows. She got the Walmart brand of crisp rice serial (because generic!) and we got back home and went to business. We had three open bags of marshmallows. We had 1 1/2 cups of mini marshmallows, one bag with about four larger marshmallows, and a nearly-full bag of marshmallows that had mostly stuck together. All three bags of marshmallows had the recipe for crisp rice treats on them, which was great for someone who really needs to follow a recipe. My daughter and I had to do some math to get the number of marshmallows close to what we needed; we needed 5 1/2 cups of mini marshmallows, but 40 regular-sized marshmallows. (Part of the goal was to get rid of some of the bags!) Crisp rice treats are pretty forgiving After we got our fingers all sticky from prying the stuck marshmallows apart, things worked just peachy. Not a whole lot of modification needed; the marshmallows melted just fine and it tasted just fine after it cooled. We just paid attention and didn't over-zap the marshmallows and butter in the microwave, and stirred in the cereal right after we took the bowl of goo out of the microwave. The final product wasn't a work of art, but it really doesn't need to be! Perfectly flat treats are for people with too much time on their hands Just one thing that can be saved from the trash After my daughter and I made this masterpiece, I found some tips on reviving stale marshmallows (as well as a number of other uses for them). Putting a fresh piece of bread in with the marshmallows softens them up again. In addition, here are a few more foods that can be revived (check out here for more): You can freeze very ripe bananas to use them in recipes. (I don't particularly like green bananas but don't mind ripe ones, so this may not bother you.) Moldy cheese can be fixed simply by cutting off the moldy part. For bruised apples, I usually just do a bruise-ectomy and get on with life. Reinvigorate stale potato chips and stale cereal with a tour in the oven at low heat. Sometimes food is beyond repair, but often there's a way to get some more life out of it. Maybe in even a tastier way than our sweet marshmallow experiment worked out! What other hacks do you have for getting more mileage out of your food? Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! [...]



Automatic savings and control: How much?

2017-10-05T05:47:06Z

After $1,610.55 saved with the Change app over four months, I'm pausing automatic savings. It's not because I wasn't pleased with the great things Change did … Change is a great app. I've been very impressed with it over the past four months. Here are my other posts talking about my using Change: Emergency fund […] Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! After $1,610.55 saved with the Change app over four months, I'm pausing automatic savings. It's not because I wasn't pleased with the great things Change did … Change is a great app. I've been very impressed with it over the past four months. Here are my other posts talking about my using Change: Emergency fund with AI: Change Automatic savings and observations from Change Automatic savings: Another month of Change My automatic savings passed $1k with Change Automated transfer to savings with Change All told, Change has discreetly, effortlessly, and smartly squirreled away $1,610.55 for me over the past four months. Here's how things look now, and I'm tickled: Date Amount Previous $1,340.90 9/12/2017 $26.74 9/13/2017 $26.80 9/14/2017 $27.04 9/18/2017 $27.37 9/19/2017 $26.86 9/20/2017 $27.20 9/21/2017 $26.46 9/25/2017 $26.92 9/26/2017 $27.30 9/27/2017 $26.96 TOTAL $1,610.55 Automatic savings … with a new level of trust At the time I installed this app and handed it my bank account information, it was an experiment. An experiment in technology, sure, but also an experiment in trust. If I wanted to use the Auto-Saving feature of Change, I had to trust it with my bank privileges on a level I hadn't trusted anyone, or anything, else. I didn't know in advance exactly how much, or how often, it would withdraw money from my account into a savings account. All I knew was that it would withdraw, up to a few times a week, somewhere between $5 and $150 each time, and that it wouldn't withdraw anything if there was a danger that I'd overdraft. It seems a bit risky to trust an algorithm with withdrawals from my bank account, but I did it anyway. Change did exactly what it said it would. Now I have over $1,600 saved to show for it. What's more, I hardly missed the money. I've got no regrets that I trusted Change. No regrets at all. But … does every dollar have a name? My wife and I have been doing Dave Ramsey‘s Financial Peace University for a few weeks now through our church. I can see why he has such a devoted following. He's a dynamic speaker with a rock-solid method. We just completed the week where we designed a zero-based budget — where we assign a name (category of income or expense) to every dollar that comes in and goes out. As much as I've been pleased with what Change did for me, I (somewhat reluctantly) paused the Auto-Saving feature. The main reason I paused it was for the same reason I turned it on: Because the amounts were variable, and based on my balance. I couldn't predict with certainty how much it would take out over the course of a month. As such, a range of possible values for savings isn't acceptable in a zero-based budget. You plan for an amount, not an amount plus or minus something. You plan for exactly $300, not “somewhere in the neighborhood of $300.” It's an issue of control, really. I mentioned above that I hardly missed the money when Change pulled it out. But when we went over our expenses to create a reasonable zero-based budget, we found that there were a bunch of other things that we hardly missed in our spending. And those other things that we were hardly missing were costing us, quite a bit. For now, we're going to control all of the money Change was perfect for us a few months ago. It matched the kind of budgeting we did, which was very fluid and broad-stroke. (And it could well be perfect for you for where you are now. If you don't have an emergency fund, Change will definitely help you to build that up. It got us past the Dave Ramsey B[...]



Best things to buy in October

2017-10-02T07:05:54Z

Business is cyclical. Here are the best things to buy in October … There are good deals to be found year-round for just about anything.  However, it's the nature of business that a lot of deals happen at the same time during the year. Best things to buy in October First, a word of warning: Next […] Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! Business is cyclical. Here are the best things to buy in October … There are good deals to be found year-round for just about anything.  However, it's the nature of business that a lot of deals happen at the same time during the year. Best things to buy in October First, a word of warning: Next month starts the beginning of the holiday shopping season. A whole bunch of stuff goes on sale once we're in shooting distance of the holidays. Electronics are typically a biggie during Black Friday and the like, so getting something electronic now would probably be a bad idea. > Here are things that you can find good deals on in October: Travel. If you're looking ahead to holiday travel, then this is the time to do it. It's also a good time to travel off-season (as in New Orleans because it's far away from Mardi Gras). Shoes. Apparently, footwear goes on discount in October. (I run through shoes pretty quickly — and I have to buy two pairs each time! — so I'm going to check this month for deals.) Lawnmowers. UIf you can find things that are just going out of season (as in lawnmowers during the fall when the grass is thinking about going into hibernation) then you can snag deals on those things because the stores are going to want to use the space for more seasonal equipment. Small appliances and cookware. Not sure why these are on sale this month, but there you go. You can prepare to get your holiday party host(ess) on with deals on cookware and small appliances (think OXO or Crock-Pot). Seasonal fruits and veggies. There's always something in season, and it's cheaper and healthier to get it in season. Some favorites for October are apples (these are in season pretty much for the rest of the year), chestnuts, elderberries, figs, grapes, pears, and tomatoes (we're getting those in our garden now — yum). Also in season are walnuts, artichoke, aubergine, beetroot, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, celery, celeriac, fennel, kale, kohlrabi — a biennial cabbage cultivar, for those keeping track — leeks, marrow, mushrooms (wild and otherwise), onions, potatoes, pumpkin (of course!), rocket (arugula), swede, turnips, and watercress.   Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! [...]



How to use free money app Ibotta (plus a $10 bonus!)

2017-10-01T02:13:42Z

I used the free money app Ibotta to save on purchases I normally wouldn't have … plus I got a $10 bonus! This past year I got back on the smartphone wagon through Republic Wireless (check out my review), and have installed some money apps mainly to get me using my phone a bit. I […] Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! I used the free money app Ibotta to save on purchases I normally wouldn't have … plus I got a $10 bonus! This past year I got back on the smartphone wagon through Republic Wireless (check out my review), and have installed some money apps mainly to get me using my phone a bit. I just installed a money-saving one called Ibotta. Getting rebates for something I'm doing anyway — grocery shopping — is hard to pass up. It looked like all I really needed to do was scan my receipts after shopping with this free money app, and then goodness would happen, so I gave it a shot. Spending less at stores you're already shopping at Ibotta already has relationships with the grocery stores we go to most often (Walmart, Costco, and Wegmans). Since Walmart is less than a mile from us, I used that one as my first trial. Here's what I did (and also what to do): 1. Register for an Ibotta account, and download the app I went over to the site to register. Signing up is free. Nothing difficult about this. Since my Republic Wireless phone is an Android, I went to the Google Play store to download the app. Then I logged in with the account information I just set up, and I was good to go. 2. Select your favorite stores, and look at the products that are money-savers After the account setup, Ibotta asked about my favorite stores. I started with Walmart, Costco, and Wegmans. (There are hundreds of stores to choose from.) 3. Select the rebates you want to take advantage of This part takes a bit of time but not too much. (I tap the Find Rebates button in the app.) Ibotta categorizes the rebates by things like Frozen, Dairy & Eggs, Breakfast, etc., so you can head to the sections that are interesting to you. For my first time around, I selected four things: Any Item, Any Yogurt, Any Pasta, and Klondike Bars. (The Klondike Bars rebate triggered my $10 bonus; more about that later.) 4. Go shopping just like you normally do and make sure to get your receipt It's probably not necessary to have everything checked off before you walk in the store, but I did this time. (At the entrance of the store, there was a sampling station for some cheese, and the sign there pointed out that the product was on Ibotta, so I assume that I could have added that while I was in the store.) I had my phone just to remind myself of the items that had the rebates. Then I checked out and went home. 5. Claim the rebates by scanning your receipt and (possibly) some barcodes After I got home, I tapped the Redeem button to cash in. The first thing I did was scan the QR code on the bottom of the Walmart receipt. From there, I checked off the items that I actually bought (which in this case was the four items I listed above). I additionally had to scan the barcodes for the pasta and the Klondike Bars. After that, I submitted the receipt. 6. Profit! Ibotta says that receipts can take up to 48 hours to be credited, but mine was credited the same day (I think it only took a couple of hours!) I happily now have $11.50 in my Ibotta account: $0.25 for the yogurt, $0.25 for the pasta, $0.50 for one of the other items (basically for scanning the receipt!), $0.50 for the Klondike Bars, and $10.00 for fulfilling my signup bonus! Yes, there's a $10 Signup Bonus with the first receipt This was a pretty sweet bonus. I received the bonus with my first rebate. I mentioned above that the trigger was the Klondike Bars. I'll explain. In order to get the $10 bonus, I needed to fulfill one rebate that wasn't an “any item” or “any brand” rebate. The other thre[...]



Bargain hunting online: Hacking deals for books and music

2017-09-27T05:25:28Z

Bargain hunting can go to a new level online. But you have to beat the online retailers at their own game … (This is a guest post from Kostas at Finance Blog Zone.) Consumers are getting wiser and more meticulous in choosing the best deals they can get their hands on when purchasing the things […] Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! Bargain hunting can go to a new level online. But you have to beat the online retailers at their own game … (This is a guest post from Kostas at Finance Blog Zone.) Consumers are getting wiser and more meticulous in choosing the best deals they can get their hands on when purchasing the things that they need. Despite the wide array of items put on sale by brick-and-mortar stores, hunting for the best value online has become part of any bargain hunter’s objectives. The rise in popularity of e-commerce has led more businesses to go on leaps and bounds to satisfy their target customers. After all, a lot of people have turned to online stores in shopping for the greatest finds simply because of convenience in ordering and shipping. In the case of downloadable materials, buying digital items such as e-books and music files allow consumers to instantly enjoy their purchases. Instead of having to pile up a stack of CDs and books, they can just search online for their favorite titles, and instantly download the files into their devices. Unfortunately, along with this convenience in shopping is the risk of developing unhealthy spending habits. Because practically everything is within their reach through the Internet, many online shoppers find themselves buying an extravagant product that actually costs less than what they paid online. In other words, we all need to watch out on our online spending. A lot of experts have shared their secrets to success by writing their own books. Some of them have successfully captured the attention of people looking for the best books about money. However, without the proper mindset in terms of online purchases, even the best advice on financial literacy cannot save you. Getting the Best Deals in a Discounted Virtual World What’s great is that you can have your cake and eat it too! If you’re planning to buy something online, why not use sound strategies to get the best deals? Here are some online hacks to grabbing the biggest discounts and best prices on your favorite songs and e-books: 1. Do a lot of research You may have the exact idea of what you want to purchase. But instead of purchasing it right away, try to look at other sites that offer the same brand. Some sites may be selling the item at a much lower price. Remember, haste makes waste. It’s definitely wise to do a little research. 2. Bookmark or set notifications for favorite brands Some of the things that you want to purchase may not be needed immediately. This means you can bookmark your favorite brand. Online stores are likely to feature special coupons that you can use when purchasing on a later date. You may also set up a notification through mobile or email, so that the e-commerce store can alert you on upcoming promotions. 3. Note the schedule of new music releases Instead of downloading music every day or at random, why not set a certain day of the week to check the latest releases? Most record labels release new music on Tuesdays, so make it a habit to buy only on that day. 4. Read snippets of the book before buying Most e-book sellers provide a sample or snippet of the book, probably a few pages or the entire first chapter. Make use of this free resource to check whether you really like the book. This way, you will eliminate the possibility of buying a book that you would not find interesting in the long run. 5. Consider buying pre-loved books or albums Purchasing online doesn’t necessarily mean that the items should be new. Check for pre-loved products that are bei[...]



How many credit cards should you have?

2017-09-16T18:11:50Z

How many credit cards should you have? I don't know your number, but I'll explain mine … Credit and debit cards are a staple of most people's finances. Nearly three-quarters of people in a study (72.1%) have at least one credit card. But, as I'm sure you're well aware, there are lots of choices for credit […] Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! How many credit cards should you have? I don't know your number, but I'll explain mine … Credit and debit cards are a staple of most people's finances. Nearly three-quarters of people in a study (72.1%) have at least one credit card. But, as I'm sure you're well aware, there are lots of choices for credit cards. Many big retailers have their own branded credit card that they market to you at every opportunity, enticing you with rewards and bonuses for signing up. It makes for good business, of course. People tend to spend more per transaction with credit cards than with cash. And, since store rewards typically outperform more generic rewards cards, that's more reason to use the card more. Here's how many credit cards I have I have seven cards. Here they are, in approximate order when I got them: My hometown credit union's Visa. This account is nearly 30 years old; I got the card sometime in high school. I keep it simply because its age helps my credit history. My current credit union's Visa. I got this card shortly after I started the job I'm in now. It's not a rewards card, which amazes me that I didn't change over sooner! Chase Sapphire Visa. This one is the latest rewards card I have from Chase. I've used this card and previous versions of the card for over a decade. It averages a reward of 1.2% or so across all purchases (some categories reward higher than others). AT&T Universal Business Rewards. This one is for my business expenses (to keep them separate from personal expenses). It's a 1% rewards card. Chase Amazon Prime Visa. When Amazon offered this card initially, the reward was 3% for Amazon purchases. We got it because we spend a bit on Amazon. Now it rewards 5% on Amazon purchases because we have Amazon Prime. Delta SkyMiles American Express. My wife got this one for us last year. The sign-up bonus and the rewards paid for the tickets to a conference we're going to. Citi Costco Visa. This card was great to get if for no other reason than the convenience, but it rewards 2% on Costco purchases on top of the 2% we get with the executive membership. (We spend enough at Costco to make it worth carrying.) Here's how we use the credit cards Most of the cards we have are rewards cards. It completely defeats the purpose of a rewards card to carry a balance on the card and pay interest that eclipses the rewards (and then some!) So, we don't carry a balance on the cards. Ever. We pay our credit cards off in full, every month. The main cards we use for personal purchases are the Chase Sapphire, the Costco card, and the Amazon card. We use the Amazon card for Amazon purchases and the Costco Card for Costco purchases. We use the Chase Sapphire for pretty much everything else. One thing we don't do is expend a lot of energy jumping from card to card to chase bonuses or rewards. Our cards are set up now for automatic payment from our bank accounts; that part is mostly foolproof now. Switching cards often will increase the chance that something will slip, and we don't want that. Our credit is fantastic now and I don't want that to change. So … how many credit cards should you have? I don't have the faintest idea. Sorry. Your context is different than mine, and I'd be presumptuous to suggest that our way is one-size-fits-all. It isn't. But here are some things to consider when you decide how many credit cards you should have: Do you have credit card debt? Hey, it happens. But in this case, it's not the answe[...]



Automated transfer to savings with Change

2017-09-12T04:12:23Z

Change continues to use its automated transfer smarts to build my emergency fund. It can do the same for you … I've been using the savings app Change since the end of May 2017. (Here's the previous update post.) Change is a service that has as its goal to alter behavior about spending and saving algorithms-based […] Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! Change continues to use its automated transfer smarts to build my emergency fund. It can do the same for you … I've been using the savings app Change since the end of May 2017. (Here's the previous update post.) Change is a service that has as its goal to alter behavior about spending and saving algorithms-based behavioral economics (also known as “smarts”). Automated transfer with Change update The feature of Change that continues to be the most useful (also stated in my review here) that the feature that got my attention with Change was the smart automated transfer to savings feature. This feature is similar to traditional automatic withdrawals from your bank, except that Change's transfers adapt to your spending patterns and balances through its algorithms. Simply set and forget, and it withdraws just the right amount on your behalf to a pooled savings account. Here's a record of what Change withdrew from my checking account into my savings account: Thru 8/10/2017 $1,017.44 8/14/2017 $29.16 8/15/2017 $29.09 8/16/2017 $28.52 8/17/2017 $30.78 8/21/2017 $26.74 8/22/2017 $26.37 8/23/2017 $26.54 8/24/2017 $30.77 9/5/2017 $31.71 9/6/2017 $31.83 9/7/2017 $31.95 TOTAL $1,340.90 Change continues to work exactly as advertised. Once I set Auto-Savings up, it withdrew between $5 and $100 up to a few times a week (usually four times a week, but occasionally fewer). (This month, there was a bit of a gap because there was a hiccup with the connection between Change and my credit union. This seems to happen with most apps at one time or another.) It's pulled out nearly $1,350. I really didn't miss it. Dave Ramsey has a baby step about getting a $1,000 emergency fund in place. Change did this for me, and I barely noticed. It was all set and forget! Change is free. Give it a try! (I'm happy with it, but judge for yourself!) The amounts that it chose to pull out for the automated transfer to savings continue to be unusually specific. are interesting. Over the past month, the withdrawals were mostly in the $20-$30 range. The least was a $5.75 withdrawal near the end of the month. This was a week that our checking account was a bit low, so Change got more conservative. Here's how Change encouraged me to review my expenses I continue to get texts from Change regularly. It texts me my balances and the automated transfers to my savings account. It also sends me information that gives insights to my spending and saving habits. At the end of August, I got this: Your cash flow summary for August just came in, and IT. LOOKS. AWESOME. Look at you, spending money and putting a nice bit aside for a rainy day. That's how it's done! Tap <> to see for yourself. Substantially better on the face of it than the previous two months. Tapping on the link gave me a happy face with this message: John, props are in order! A positive net cash flow means that you earn more than you spend, and that's a very good thing. Short and sweet! But why were things so rosy? I reviewed my expenses. (The link to do so was right there: easy-peasy!) Looking at the numbers I saw why. There was a large transfer from another account to pay off a mortgage (more on that in another post) and the amount I pulled out was more than what was needed to pay off the mortgage. This kind of thing doesn't happen every month. (Oh, for a normal month!) But, still, it's nice to know that Change is paying at[...]



How to arrange flowers like a boss

2017-09-06T05:27:00Z

I stay on my wife's good side with “just because” flowers. She knows how to arrange flowers, so it doesn't matter that I got a $4 bouquet from Walmart … Every few weeks or so, I stop at Walmart to pick up some flowers to bring home. (This way I don't have to go overboard […] Visit Mighty Bargain Hunter for more articles on recognizing life's good deals! I stay on my wife's good side with “just because” flowers. She knows how to arrange flowers, so it doesn't matter that I got a $4 bouquet from Walmart … Every few weeks or so, I stop at Walmart to pick up some flowers to bring home. (This way I don't have to go overboard on anniversaries, Valentine's Day, etc. I've already scored some points.) Some of you are thinking, “Awwww, you're a good hubby for doing that!” And some of you might be thinking, “Dude … Walmart?!” Well, the picture in this post shows a $3.97 bouquet of flowers from Walmart, beautifully arranged by my wife. Walmart bouquets are very good for the price Our Walmart sells green-, red-, and purple-wrapped bouquets for $3.97, $9.97, and $14.97, respectively. The higher-priced ones are usually bigger and have more exotic flowers in them. The flowers in the picture are three colors of carnations. Almost all of the time, there are a few bouquets in the display that look decent. The particular flowers in the bouquets change from time to time, so it's a little bit of a surprise what will be there. I don't always go for the $4 bouquets. It's more a function of what is there, what's pretty, and what's in good shape. Sometimes a $4 bouquet is the best-looking one there. How to arrange flowers like a boss — even a $4 bouquet of flowers! My wife took a course in flower arranging, so I have it easy; she's very happy to arrange them for me. I asked her to explain how she does it. Here's what I learned about how to arrange flowers: Choose a vase that gives some maneuvering room, but not too much. The vase doesn't have to be particularly fancy; it just has to not leak. Heck, a rinsed-out food container works. The mouth of the vase should allow some room to maneuver the flowers, but not so much room that they can move by themselves. It might be that you end up moving the flowers to a different vase due to the size of the mouth being off. Don't use the freshness preserver. My wife is convinced that the flowers will last longer without dumping it in the water. There are ways to make cut flowers last longer but we haven't tried them. Fill the vase most of the way up with cool tap water. Too full and the water will spill over when the flowers are put in the vase (darn you, Archimedes!) Also, doing this before putting the flowers in is more convenient than after. Measure, roughly, the amount of stem to cut off. Put one of the flowers next to the vase to gauge how much to cut off. The stem should be close to, or at, the bottom of the vase with the flower a few inches or so above the mouth of the vase. (Or, just ignore this and do what looks good to you.) Cut the stem to length at an angle. Cutting the stem at an angle (rather than straight) increases the open surface area and allows the water to flow in more easily. Remove the leaves from the stem that will be submerged. This prevents those leaves from rotting and making things all stinky. Keep the leaves above the level of the water, as this makes the arrangement look fuller. Put the flower in the vase. That's one. Repeat Steps 4 to 7 with the rest of the flowers. Try to do different lengths for the stems, and move the flowers around in the vase until they look pretty. This is a matter of taste. There are a lot of good ways to arrange flowers. Getting a pre-made bouquet already has a good selection of flowers with good color combinations; this is [...]